Friday, April 13, 2018

Senators Who Still Own VCR's Put Tech Ignorance On Display

One of the outcomes of the senate hearings on Facebook is that they are trying to figure out how to regulate a Facebook that they don't understand.  This article contains a handful of the dumbest questions that exploded on Twitter.  Its really hard to believe.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

This Is Your President

The people who should be reading this editorial by the NYT will be reading Breitbart News, watching Fox News and listening to hysterics on talk radio.  They have been insulated from information provided by media sources that have guided our nation for decades.  The real fake new services in our nation have convinced them that news which must pass editorial reviews, and is produced by trained journalists,  only tells them lies about our liar- in- chief who creates chaos in the White House.  However, the newspaper of record in the US continues to do its job in this editorial.  It offers a brief history of the person that we put in the White House.  It is not at all surprising that his tainted character and his personality disorder has followed him to the White House where he has been trying to run our nation with his Twitter account.  This was not an easy decision by the editors.  I can't recall another time in our recent history when reputable news sources like the NYT and the Washington Post have called a sitting US president a liar who is unfit to be in the White House.  This may not affect those who support this president but it serves an important purpose.  It sets the historical record straight and it will be read by future generations who will be studying an era in which a tyrant was provided with the powers of the presidency.  They will also learn about the real fake news sources that aided and abetted Donald Trump; the cowardice of the Republicans in congress and the billionaires who fund the fake news and the campaigns of both political parties.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Asymmetric Polarization And Economic Reporting By Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman just invented a new term that describes a problem that has bothered him for a long time.  Our major news organizations, including the NYT and the Washington Post would like to give equal time to conservative economists so that they can balance liberal and conservative ideas in their reporting.  That should be easy because there are lots of respected conservative economists to choose from.  Unfortunately, they have only been able to come up with sycophants who are not respected in the profession.  He gave us a few examples of the duds who have recently been given the opportunity to display their ignorance in the service of balance.  He invented a new term for this problem: He calls it "asymmetric polarization".

We have asymmetric polarization for two reasons.  In the first place, there is no problem finding liberal economists who make an honest effort to analyze and describe economic policy issues.  The other side of the problem is that conservative politicians are not interested in ideas from conservative economists that do not validate their policy proposals.  Their reporting would have no influence on the policy debate within the Republican Party.  Consequently, the media are forced to provide a platform to "economists" who will sing the praises of Republican economic policies that never die. Krugman calls them zombie ideas for that reason.  Like zombies they are immortal.  Its always a good idea to cut taxes for the rich, and its always a good idea to cut regulations that donors to the Republican Party don't like etc. etc.  Unfortunately, Donald Trump's plan to implement tariffs to balance US trade deficits with China creates a real problem for the Republican Party.  It runs counter to the free trade ideology that has been embraced by the great majority of economists and by both political parties.  Its been interesting to watch conservative economists attempting to put a positive spin on Trump's trade policies.  We do have a trade imbalance but tariffs are not the best way to balance US trade.  The stock market has spoken on this problem.  The market does not like chaos.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Tom Friedman Disputes Putin's Leadership Of Russia

David Brooks argued, correctly, that Trump has been a terrible leader of the US and the Western world.  He then contrasted Trump with Putin's leadership of Russia and its Eastern allies who are spreading autocracy in Europe.  Tom Friedman would agree with Brooks about the failures of Donald Trump, however, he is not willing to put the crown of successful leadership on Putin.  In the first place, he disagrees with Brooks about the Russian economy.  In particular, he argues that Russia has done little to promote human capital development and that Russia has discouraged entrepreneurs; the judicial system does not protect them from oligarchs who ignore their patents and assume control of their businesses.  Friedman believes that the Russian economy is dependent upon the oil and gas resources that will become less valuable as the rest of the world battles global warming,  He also claims that Putin's foreign policies have been harmful to Russia's economy because they have led to Western sanctions that reduce Russian access to foreign capital.

In a more general sense, Friedman accuses Putin of behaving a lot like Donald Trump.  Both of them try to portray themselves as strong leaders; both of them exploit the religious beliefs of their base, and they are in continuous campaign mode.  That is, self glorification is more important than anything else.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

David Brooks Explains Why Putin Is The World's Most Influential Leader

With Donald Trump in the White House there is an absence of leadership in Western democracy.  Vladimir Putin is an intelligent and powerful leader of Russia;  his 80% approval rating in Russia is based upon his economic performance since assuming power.  Putin inherited a terrible economy that had been destroyed by a failed effort to transform the communist state into a market economy.  Life has gotten better for most Russians since Putin came to power.  He has also been a successful advocate of authoritarian leadership in many parts of the world.  Donald Trump's rise to power in the US, and his performance in the presidency, has demonstrated the flaws in democracy.  We elected an ignorant and psychologically challenged president who has exploited divisions in our nation to secure his position.  The US, under Donald Trump, has defaulted on the position that it earned by its leadership in the aftermath of WW ll.  It must have been very hard for David Brooks to make the case that he made for Putin.  Donald Trump, with a lot of help from the Republican Party, has made his decision easy. 

Why Poor States In US Are Getting Poorer

Paul Krugman explains why poor rural states have been getting poorer while rich urban states are getting richer.  The convergence process in which poor rural states, like Mississippi, had been gaining on rich states, like Massachusetts, has been reversed.  The reversal is partially due to broad economic changes; the richer states have been getting richer because the high paying jobs require an educated work force.  On the other hand, government policies in poor states like Oklahoma and Kansas have exacerbated their relative impoverishment.  They have cut taxes and reduced spending on education and other programs that would have increased opportunities for the poor.  They have even refused to take federal funds for healthcare services because they have an anti-government bias.  In other words, Republican ideology is partially responsible for their economic decline.  Trump promised to improve their economic circumstances but he has taken steps which will accelerate their economic decline.